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Recently one of my profs (other than my advisor) told me that I am not doing well in his subject. Should I tell this to my advisor? Actually the reason of me not doing well is doing other jobs assigned by my advisor to me like advising undergraduates. Undergraduates don't let me do my work. And whenever I am busy doing my own research and due to this when I politely refuse them, they say that they will go and complain about me to my advisor. Please help I am really stuck as to how to deal with the situation?

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

Yes. Talk to your advisor.

It is really important you learn to, in a good way, think of yourself. Right now, the undergraduates are happy (they get help) but your work is suffering. I can imagine that helping undergraduates is part of your job description, but not to the point you cannot work anymore yourself. You need to sit down with your professor and your supervisor and discuss that your undergraduate workload is too much. Best is to have a proposal ready yourself, e.g. that you want to spend a day a week helping undergraduates and that that is the limit. Once you get both your professor and your supervisor to agree, no undergraduate can manipulate you into helping him/her. In addition, everyone is clear on their expectations, this is the professional way of dealing with this in my opinion.

If you do not set boundaries, you will be the only one suffering. The professor and supervisor will feel somewhat bad, but the undergraduates will find a new person to stalk, while you are left without a PhD.

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You need to talk to your advisor about this, and ask his expectations. If he wants you to spend all your time on helping undergraduates there is no time for research. He can ask this for some time, say one course, but then you need to get time for research. He also needs to clear this with the professor so he knows you will make little progress on research for some time. – Paul Hiemstra Dec 30 '12 at 19:48
Actually Paul my advisor has asked me to drop a mail to her to tell a reason for delaying my work, so should i post the line which the undergraduates keep troubling me with (The line is there in my first comment). – Jannat Arora Dec 30 '12 at 19:49
It could also be that the undergraduates are just milking you for help because you give it. It is easier to let you do the thinking instead of doing it themselves. Try to judge when they just need to spend more time by themselves, and when you need to drop them some hints to help them. And if they get nasty, let them go to your supervisor and let her back you up. – Paul Hiemstra Dec 30 '12 at 19:50
And ask your supervisor to help you deal with pesky students, she will probably also have had her fair share of milking students – Paul Hiemstra Dec 30 '12 at 19:51
Advising undergraduates being part of your job is different than spending all your time on it. You could create times during the day (e.g. in the afternoon) that you have a few hours that you answer questions. Outside those hours you ask students to come back later. This prevents you being drawn out of research every time. – Paul Hiemstra Dec 30 '12 at 19:51

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